Customer Review

403 of 446 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dell has gotten good., June 24, 2014
This review is from: Dell Inspiron i3847-5078BK Desktop (Windows 7 Home Premium) (Personal Computers)
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OK... A little background: I am the kind of guy who builds his own PCs. Sure, over the past three-and-a-half decades I've owned several pre-builts, including several from Apple, ASUS, IBM (old school!), Acer, Compaq, HP, Lenovo, Gateway and other companies, but those usually ended up being cannibalized for parts because I never really liked how limited the designs were in those systems. They lacked expansion slots, or the memory couldn't be upgraded, or they weren't flexible enough to allow me to add more hard drives (you can never have enough hard drives). So I frequently just built Frankenputers from pieces and parts, and tailored them to my needs, all the while working in various computer stores (years ago) selling pre-built units-- including Dells-- to customers (until all the computer stores went out of business thanks to Best Bigbox killing them). I have to add that my experience with Dell at that time left me less than enthused.

Enter the Dell Inspiron i3847. They advertised it as "That expandable" and I was intrigued. "Truly? A pre-built desktop that doesn't make expansion a chore? This I've got to see!"

When the Dell arrived, I fired it up and was, indeed pleased by the fast setup and the lack of bloatware-- indeed, the only extra software on it seemed to be the 30-day trial of McAfee, but as I have my own subscription with Kaspersky, I didn't even need this and it was easily deleted, leaving me the majority of the 1TB hard drive for future software installations.

The speed was also quite nice. I was coming from an AMD Phenom X4 955 3.2 GHz, and the boost in speed when going to the Intel Core i5 (also 3.2 GHz) is quite welcome. That's not to say the AMD was slow, but that the Intel is just more optimized. It's simply faster in day-to-day functions, and plays nicer with my various applications.

The 8GB of RAM was also pretty helpful, I must say. It's nice to get a PC loaded with enough RAM to do any job. Too many pre-built PCs cheap-out in this regard, giving the buyer 4GB to deal with. In this era of 64-bit Windows, there's simply no reason not to slap the other 4GB in there and make the end-user experience that much more pleasant.

The on-board graphics? Well, they're Intel on-board graphics. Fast enough for web browsing, basic games, basic video, and business applications, but I'm a bit of a gamer and video editor, and so I was exceptionally pleased to see the free slot and ample space in the Dell Inspiron to allow me to install my Radeon HD 7850. Yes, yes... I know I'd be better served on an Intel with a GeForce card, but right now I'm happy with my existing Radeon pulled from an AMD system, and you can bet I was happy to see that it fit in the Dell.

Of course, there was one problem: Power. The Dell Inspiron i3847-5078BK comes with a very basic 300-watt power supply, and no, it does not have PCI-E connections. That meant swapping over my Corsair RM550 so that I could provide power to my Radeon card... And then, as long as I was in there, I mounted a second and third hard drive. I had to provide an extra SATA connector, and to be clear, there is no third HDD bay, but I happened to have a 5.25 caddy around, and so my third hard drive fit nicely in the second optical drive bay (which I wouldn't have needed, anyway... I really don't see the point to two optical drives unless you do a lot of disc-to-disc copying). While I was making changes, I decided to pull the stock DVD-RW drive (not a bad drive, mind you) and replace it with my own BD-RW drive.

It took some work getting the cables from my modular power supply managed, but once done, everything worked perfectly. The power supply mounted with no problems, the new hard drives all work, and the system is still so remarkably quiet I'm amazed it's got such a beefy CPU.

I didn't stop there, though. This system came with Windows 7 64-bit. That's nice and all, but after a couple years of using Windows 8 and 8.1, I was too used to the new OS and all the advancement in it (and before you gripe about how terrible Windows 8.1 is, let me point out that the under-the-hood improvements are enough of a performance boost for any gamer to think twice about being pedantic about the UI changing slightly.) With Windows 8.1 in place on this Core i5 system, with an improved video card and 8 GB of RAM, the system boots up super-fast and everything blazes.

Even before I put Windows 8.1 on this PC, though, it was pretty darn fast. The hardware is solid. The Core i5 CPU is absolutely lovely, and I have no complaints about it. The added RAM was probably the real boost to the system, though. If you absolutely hate Windows 8.1 then you will still see plenty of speed on this system as-is, with Windows 7 on it.

Despite this being an excellent computer that has changed my mind about pre-built systems, I am knocking off a point from my review for a combination of things:

First, the stock power supply was woefully inadequate for any expansion of the system. It was enough to run the hardware included, but if the average user wants to add a hard drive or video card, they're going to find out soon enough that they needed to upgrade the power supply. What's more, the included PSU has exceptionally short wires going to the CPU and motherboard, making it useful only for this particular PC & motherboard's layout. This is a minor complaint, but when they advertise that it's "That Expandable", they really should see fit to stick a beefier, more well-equipped power supply in the case.

Second, I just don't see the point to having two 5.25 bays and only two 3.25 bays when there are four SATA connections. Most people simply aren't going to need an extra optical drive, and would want that extra hard drive some day. Maybe it's just me, but I think a third 3.25 rack would have been preferable in a case like this, or, barring that, at least include a caddy to transform that 5.25 bay into a 3.25 bay. I had one lying around, but most people won't, and again they're selling this series as "Expandable" so I'd think this hardware would be part of the case design.

Finally, there are no front fans whatsoever. No hard drive cooling, no intake. I may correct this myself if I can figure out how to make it work with the nearly-sealed front panel, but I found it strange that a system that is supposed to be expandable wouldn't take into account the possibility that future upgrades might increase the interior heat and require some additional cooling.

These are, of course, all nitpick from a PC builder's point of view. For the average consumer looking for a powerful system this is a great choice. You have the ability to add that GeForce (or AMD) video card, as long as you make sure to swap out the power supply, too. You have the ability to add an extra hard drive easily (the SATA and power connectors are right there, held in place on the empty drive bay). You have 8GB of RAM and almost the entire 1 TB hard drive to work with thanks to Dell not packing in a bunch of unnecessary bloatware. You have excellent speed, and best of all, quiet cooling and power that makes this system purr.

This is an excellent choice in pre-built PCs. I can safely say that the next time I am looking to help a layperson find a pre-built desktop computer that I won't have to help them fix all the time, it will likely be a Dell. My assessment of Dell's hardware (and software) has *vastly* improved after my experience with this system. They've made consumer-friendly systems that still cater to the desires and needs of tinkerers and people in-the-know, like me.

Final Verdict: FOUR STARS for me, but it could be FIVE STARS for the average consumer who never intends to do any upgrading themselves. Let's call it FOUR AND A HALF STARS, if Amazon would let me do that.
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Comments

Tracked by 11 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 72 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jun 27, 2014 9:34:42 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 27, 2014 9:56:40 AM PDT
Odin7 says:
Nice review. You did appear to do a lot of mods to the stock PC right out of the box though. You replaced the integrated HD graphics with another video board, you upgraded the power supply, you replaced the DVD writer, modified an expansion bay and thought the cooling vents inadequate for expandability. All this does not speak well of the stock PC, which should be rated on its own merits. However, I envy you for receiving a free PC as a "Vine" reviewer and I wonder a bit on the implied conflict of interest. (IMO one really wouldn't want to bite the Amazonian hand that feeds one, but rather "Prime" the Amazon sales pump, so to speak, as its first reviewer)

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 27, 2014 10:21:21 AM PDT
Raven Wilder says:
Dell advertises this system's expandability as a key feature. My review tests this claim, and in my opinion Dell made good on their advertising.

I did run with the stock settings and features briefly, and as stated it was a pleasant experience, but certainly not enough for a decent gaming setup. I imagine there are many people who would want to know if they can use this system with decent video cards and other upgrades. That is Dell's advertising angle on this PC's description, anyway.

Posted on Jul 6, 2014 8:15:40 AM PDT
Thank you for a thorough review. Can you tell me if this desktop included the Windows 7 disc? I like to be prepared in case of a reinstall. Kind Regards!

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 6, 2014 9:20:43 AM PDT
Raven Wilder says:
Unfortunately, no discs are included. However, Dell does provide the ability to create your own install / restore discs, as well as having the Windows 7 installation and Dell apps on a hidden partition. My suggestion is to use Dell's restore service to make your own discs just in case.

Manufacturers all seem to be leaning toward having the OS restore on a hidden partition these days.

Posted on Jul 13, 2014 10:33:55 AM PDT
Aaron Carter says:
What is the power wattage of this pc? 400 watts?

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 13, 2014 12:57:26 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 8, 2014 9:30:12 PM PDT
Raven Wilder says:
If I recall correctly it's a 350 watt PSU. No PCI-E either. If you plan on upgrading you will want a new PSU.

EDIT: Let me clarify that I'm talking about PCI-E on the POWER SUPPLY, not the motherboard. The motherboard has PCI Express slots (it would be unusual for it not to) but you need a decent PCI-E **power supply** to use some graphics cards.

Posted on Jul 20, 2014 7:08:08 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 20, 2014 7:18:28 PM PDT
Thanks for your timely review. I am replacing my 4 year old HP and already decided on a Dell. This one looks like the one. A few questions for you if you have the time:
1. Did you replace the gfx card mostly for the gaming? I was hoping the Intel gfx with the i5 would be enough for speedy video editing/rendering. Did you happen to benchmark the gfx before and after the new card?
2. What BD recorder are you using? Any pointers on this topic would be great.
3. What kind of video interface does it have? (HDMI, DVI, VGA?)
4. Is there a SPDIF output?

Thanks again!

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 20, 2014 7:43:44 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 27, 2014 4:14:00 PM PDT
Raven Wilder says:
1. Yes, but a decent card will also help with video rendering. The built in graphics are fine for regular viewing and basic editing, but if you want faster performance in editing, you'll want to beef it up. Consider a decent Nvidia for this system. It will be worth it.

2. My internal BD-R is an LG model, but I don't know which one and I'd rather not pull it out to check. I got it here on Amazon for a pretty low price. As long as you get one that was made within the last three years, you should have no issues with any brand/model. Just make sure it can handle dual-layer BD-Rs. That's handy to have.

3. The built-in video has VGA and HDMI. A good video card would add DVI to that mix, as well as the other connectors and multi-monitor support.

4. No SPDIF built in. Just standard headphone/aux/mic connectors. Again, this would be something you could get on a decent video card.

Advice: Go for a GeForce GTX 660 or similar and you should have everything you want. Be warned! Some models of the 660 have long plastic shrouds for cooling, and those actually are a little tight in this Dell case. You can get them in, but you give up a SATA connector or two because they press against them too tightly. Shop somewhere that doesn't give you trouble when it comes to returning a video card, just in case.

You can certainly get by with the built-in graphics, but remember this is shared RAM... You pull from system RAM to power the internal video. That draws from your editing project and slows things down. A dedicated card will be much, much faster and have much better connectors than the stock video on this Dell. That's a given on any motherboard.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 21, 2014 3:44:15 PM PDT
Thank you Raven, you have been very helpful!

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 27, 2014 2:06:57 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 27, 2014 2:07:44 PM PDT
Quick question before I buy this desktop, would you by any chance know if this card EVGA GeForce GTX 750Ti SC 2GB GDDR5 Graphics Card would fit nicely with this desktop, I plan to do some pretty heavy gaming.
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Raven Wilder
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